New York State has some of America’s strictest regulations for limousines, yet that did not prevent the fatal SUV limo accident that claimed 20 lives this past Saturday in upstate New York. This accident is the worst transportation accident in nearly a decade, raising serious safety and regulation questions for the limousine industry.
According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, limousine operators must comply with strict state laws and federal laws if they operate between states or venture into Canada. In this case, the Albany-area limo operator Prestige Limo failed a state inspection in September and was driven by a man who didn’t have the required license, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday. To read the full article, click here.
Why Are Limos So Dangerous?
Most people do not think twice about renting a limousine for special occasions like weddings or birthdays, but limos and party buses can be even more dangerous than a typical car. The most common type of accidents involving limos are rear-end accidents, sideswipes, and parking lot accidents.
The size of the limousine contributes to these accidents, but there are other dangers for riding in a limousine as well. This includes failure to follow safety regulations, poor construction and mechanical error, as well as unregistered limousine companies and unlicensed drivers. Under current regulations, the limo and driver of the deadly crash should never have been on the road.
Regulations of Limousines and Drivers in New York
Within the U.S. all states require licenses for limousines and drivers. According to New York State law, each for-hire vehicle that seats 10 or more passengers must be inspected twice a year by the Department of Transportation. The limo involved in the fatal crash on Saturday failed a state inspection. They are also subject to a roadside inspection by police at any time. During those inspections, police will look through the driver’s log and licensing requirements. They will also check safety features such as brakes, lights, and emergency exits.
Under current state regulations, a limo driver is required to have a specialized license, based on the number of potential passengers and the weight of the vehicle, certain driver qualifications and medical examination requirements, passing a road exam twice a year and random drug and alcohol testing.
What to Look for When Renting a Limo
- Check to make sure that the company is registered, the driver is licensed, and the car is insured before you sign a contact.
- Check the company’s status at the Better Business Bureau to see if the limo service has any complaints lodged against it.
- Ask the car service questions about the chauffeur including his or her track record and driving experience.
- Inspect the limousine prior to signing up. Look for inspection stickers and write down the VIN to ensure the company does not switch vehicles on you.
- Look into the company’s cancellation policy and know your rights to terminate the contract if a red flag appears.
- To ensure a smooth ride, get every detail of the deal in writing.
With awareness and practicality, a limo ride can be just as glamorous as it is portrayed.